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Tomase: Alex Cora draws inspiration from Celtics turnaround

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Like sports fans across New England, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was thrilled to see the Celtics beat the Bucks on Sunday and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. He texted congratulations to head coach Ime Udoka and head of basketball operations Brad Stevens.

He also can't help but be inspired by the Green's turnaround, from winter also-ran to spring contender. Might the Red Sox, who moved out of last place on Monday night with a 6-3 win over the Astros, draw some inspiration from that accomplishment?

"Very proud of what they've done," Cora said. "I like to follow the other teams to see how people react to them. At one point, people were screaming to break that team up. And now they're in the conference finals. I think patience paid off."

The Red Sox are preaching similar patience after a woeful 14-21 start that has them staring up at all but five teams in the American League. They have quietly won three of four, however, and know, like the Celtics, that there's too much talent on the roster to remain a .400 team.

"That's something that we've been talking about today," Cora said. "National TV people are here. Bob Costas is here. They're talking about the standings and this team and that team, whatever. At the end of the day, you've got to play consistent. When you start playing consistent, you get to certain points. Let's get to .500 first. And then from there, we take off, see where we're at.

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"It's a long season, and anything can happen. We're very talented. We know that, but we've got to be consistent. I mean, the Astros were in the same boat as us, what 20 days ago and then they took off. So this is a sport of streaks. You have to avoid the losing ones and get hot like three times a year to get that long one. You learn from what you have around and you take off from there."

Cora watched the sub-.500 Celtics put it all together right around the new year and they haven't stopped winning since. He'd like to see them take it all the way to another parade.

"They decided to start playing defense, I think it was December 31 if I'm not mistaken," he said. "And that was the day everything changed. . . . Hopefully they beat the Heat and we have another final here. It should be fun."